Kangana Ranaut is no stranger to controversy. Her unfiltered comments are just as legendary as her acting skills. Her fans believe she is speaking truth to power while detractors wish there was some way to press ‘mute’ on her incessant rants. We aren’t even half way through the year and Kangana Ranaut has already been a part of half-a-dozen, mostly public, dust-ups.
This is the actor’s 13th year in the business, and it was just five years back when it seemed like Kangana could do no wrong.
She delivered huge sleeper hits – Tanu Weds Manu, Queen and Tanu Weds Manu Returns – and collected two Best Actress trophies at the National Awards. It didn’t take long for Kangana to become a force to be reckoned with.
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In an industry where everyone, especially the women, go out of their way to be likeable and not ruffle any feathers, she was like a breath of fresh air. She didn’t mince her words, threw out the Bollywood handbook and wore her individuality like a badge.
It seemed like Kangana single-handedly battled the industry’s deep-seated sexism and propensity for exclusion.
Kangana was the ‘outsider’ who showed Bollywood’s powers that be that she wasn’t going to back down, even if she was all alone in her corner.
She wasn’t afraid to challenge the status quo when she dragged out nepotism from the murky depths of the industry. Not much has changed in the industry since that episode of Koffee With Karan but at least, she sparked conversations about privilege and inclusiveness.
At the time, it seemed like Kangana could do no wrong. Even when the very messy Hrithik saga came to light, and there were rumours of her interference on the sets of Vishal Bharadwaj’s ill-fated Rangoon, her fans stood by her. After all, Hrithik chose to identify himself as the ‘silly ex’. And, all male actors have ‘creative disagreements’ with their director, but when an actress does it, she’s being ‘difficult’.
Kangana was the harbinger of the much-needed change in Bollywood; the feminist icon that the industry had been looking for. But something’s changed in the last year or so. It seems like our icon has clay feet.
Her position on feminism has progressively become confusing. One moment she proudly identified herself as a feminist and in the next, insisted that the only reason her relationship debacle was a public circus, was ‘feminist pressure’.
She told us that the ideal Indian woman must know how to drape a saree and laughed along with Jim Sarbh’s rape jokes at Cannes.
She refused to sign the petition in support of Deepika Padukone during the Padamaavat row and be a part of a feminist movement called ‘Deepika bachao’. Slowly but surely, it’s become clear that Kangana is a feminist when it suits her. Projecting herself as a disruptor and a feminist icon was an integral part of her marketing shtick.
Remember the rumours about her interference on the sets of Rangoon? Those rumours were carried forward to the sets of Simran. What had been whispers earlier turned into a full-blown-headline-grabbing spat between Kangana and director Hansal Mehta in one corner and writer-editor Apurva Asrani in the other. Kangana was accused of muscling her way in to get a writing credit on the film.
If that wasn’t bad enough, on her next film Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi, she took the director credit because apparently the film’s original director Krish left the film midway. Only he insisted that he had finished shooting and editing the film before he moved on to his next project. This latest professional kerfuffle made headlines for a few months before the film released on 25 January this year. For anyone keeping count, that’s three films, back-to-back, where the actress and her collaborators have had acrimonious fallouts.
Since the release of Manikarnika, Kangana has taken to, what most would feel are, unprovoked potshots at quite a few of her colleagues. Upset that industry A-listers didn’t support the film, she threatened to expose them. ‘Inki vaat laga dungi’ she vowed but didn’t bother specifying who was a part of this unnamed homogeneous group of people.
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She’s called Shabana Azmi a promoter of the ‘Bharat Tere Tukde Honge’ gang and Alia Bhatt ‘Karan Johar’s puppet’. For a few months, it felt like Kangana was throwing shade at just Alia every other week. She didn’t even spare her parents – actress Soni Razdan and director Mahesh Bhatt.
Amidst all of this insanity, if you thought the Hrithik-Kangana circus was forgotten, you couldn’t be more wrong. It pops up every once in a while when it seems like their films are going to hit theatres on the same Friday. It happened in January during the release of Manikarnika and now again when Kangana’s Mental Hai Kya was to clash with Hrithik’s Super 30. The makers of the two films have now mutually decided to not clash on 26 July, but Kangana couldn’t resist taking a shot at Hrithik. She referred to her ex’s statement about wanting to avoid their films clashing to save himself from mental trauma, as a ‘sob story’.
Last month, a controversy erupted over the posters of Mental Hai Kya, reaffirming the stereotypes associated with mental illness. In a statement that her sister Rangoli Chandel tweeted, Kangana even found a way to involve her two favourite punching bags – Karan and Hrithik – in a scenario that had nothing to do with them.
The tweet read, “With Kangana’s permission I am sharing her story, two years ago, her silly ex along with nepotism gang attacked her just to publicly embarrass and discredit her, they called her Mental and bipolar.”
With Kangana’s permission I am sharing her story, two years ago, her silly ex along with nepotism gang attacked her just to publicly embarrass and discredit her, they called her Mental and bipolar....(cont)— Rangoli Chandel (@Rangoli_A) April 20, 2019
She added, “Endless jokes and memes were made with the intention of insulting and harassing her, rather than feeling humiliated or defensive. Kangana pledged to fight the stigma attached to the illness, Mental Hai Kya is a story of fight against this very prejudice Kangana faced 2 years ago.”
(contd) ...endless jokes and memes were made with the intention of insulting and harassing her,rather than feeling humiliated or defensive Kangana pledged to fight the stigma attached to the illness, MHK is a story f fight against this very prejudice Kangana faced 2 years ago ?— Rangoli Chandel (@Rangoli_A) April 20, 2019
It takes some intense mental gymnastics to drag completely unrelated people into a controversy of your own making, while also playing the victim card.
Sigh! It’s challenging to be a card-carrying member of the ‘I love Kangana’ fan club right now.
Being a feminist means that you support other women regardless of the clique they belong to or even if their politics don’t align with yours. The bedrock of being a creative force is collaboration with like-minded people and giving credit where it’s due. More than anything else, being a role model means being gracious and large-hearted. And, Kangana seems to be failing on every single one of those counts.
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